The BJP also failed to placate tribals, who were miffed over the state government’s decision to amend the SPT Act and CNT Act.
New Delhi: The BJP’s master strategists were scratching their heads and looked completely blank as they never expected a complete rout in Jharkhand. But “arrogance”, “wrong ticket distribution”, “discouraged cadres”, “going solo” and the Raghubar Das-led BJP government’s “failure to highlight what it actually did for the state” ended up with the party losing the state, with its voteshare crashing down from 55 per cent in the Lok Sabha polls to just 33 per cent. Worse, Mr Das, the BJP’s CM face, lost his pocket borough Jamshedpur East, which he had been winning since 1995. Jharkhand is the fifth state that the BJP lost this year. The BJP also failed to placate tribals, who were miffed over the state government’s decision to amend the SPT Act and CNT Act.
The BJP, till the first two phases of polling, was certain of a close fight and confident of returning to power with the help of the All Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU) and if need be Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM). But later ground reports left the party’s poll managers disturbed. Also, the BJP top brass, sources said, did not listen to the feedback from its cadre that the party should not project Mr Das as the CM candidate.
In addition, multi-cornered fights in most seats proved disastrous for the BJP. The AJSU and JVM also did not make any noticeable electoral impact.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated JMM working president Hemant Soren, who led his party’s alliance with the Congress and RJD, for the victory and extended his best wishes to the coalition. BJP president and home minister Amit Shah expressed his gratitude to Jharkhand’s people for giving the BJP a chance to govern the
state for five years, and asserted that his party remains committed to its development. Taking responsibility for the electoral debacle, Mr Das, who was accused of being an “outsider” in the state by the Opposition, said that it was his defeat and not that of the BJP.
While the BJP is trying to formulate an explanation for this crushing defeat, rising unemployment, lack of economic development in the state and upset tribals were reportedly the major cause. Also, the party’s much-flaunted CAA, NRC and nationalism card did not find their mark, despite the Prime Minister himself openly playing the communal card. Speaking at a rally in JMM’s Dumka stronghold, Mr Modi raised the CAA and NRC issues and hinted that only Muslims were protesting against the new law. “From the visuals on TV, those setting the fire can be identified by their clothes,” the PM said. He addressed over half a dozen rallies in the state.
While the BJP top brass tried to seek votes for a “double engine ki sarkar” (BJP at the Centre and the state), the anti-incumbency against the party, in particular the CM, and its failure to convincingly counter the allegations against it — including its failed attempt to tweak the SPT Act and CNT Act — cost the party dearly.
However, most BJP leaders feel Mr Das’ “unpopularity” was also a major cause for the party’s rout. There are rumours that even most BJP cadres did not vote for him in his home turf, which he lost to party rebel Saryu Rai.
“We were at such a strong position after the Lok Sabha polls. The Opposition was divided, we had a massive voteshare, but we could not use it to our benefit in the Assembly polls. First of all, the CM did not respect the cadre, we made such a blunder during ticket distribution, angered senior leaders, promoted factionalism and there was no proper utilisation of the cadre, for which the BJP is famous for. Our opponents kept accusing us of being anti-tribal and our CM as an outsider, but we did not use our cadre to counter it properly,” said a senior BJP leader who added checking Naxalism was one of the biggest achievements of the Raghubar Das government. The state BJP feels even the organisation suffered in the state as Jharkhand unit chief Laxman Gilua, considered close to Mr Das, also lost.
With the BJP now governing only 35 per cent of the country’s landmass in comparison to over 71 per cent at its peak in 2017, when it was in power in the entire Hindi-speaking heartland, many within the party have started questioning its poll strategies. Also, raking up the CAA, NRC and nationalism did not help the BJP, which was faced with joblessness and growing anger among the tribals against the BJP government’s bid to amend two laws which tribals felt were to take away the forest land from them.
“Jharkhand rejected this ‘double engine ki sarkar’ as people knew it was not double engine but double standard ki sarkar... Also, the BJP should desist from its attempt to polarise elections by raising NRC and CAA... its leaders should raise issues which are affecting people, like unemployment and economic slowdown, which has affected almost everyone. People voted for our coalition because people trusted us and this result is the victory of the common man,” said Congress campaign panel head and former Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay.